CIMA Student Series: F2 Advanced Financial Reporting
Here Anjali Jha discusses the challenges of balancing family life and pursuing a CIMA qualification, with particular focus on the F2 exam.
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Anjali Jha is a mother to two children and started her CIMA journey when she had her first child. She previously worked as a Financial Planning & Analysis Manager with a SaaS company and is currently between jobs (see Anjali's Linkedin profile here). Anjali took some time off after the Operational level and only returned to her CIMA studies in 2018, after a gap of three years.
Anjali: "It is challenging to study with a full-time job and a young family but the letters after your name means it will be worth all the effort".
When did you take the CIMA F2 exam and how did you get on?
I sat F2 in October 2018 and passed it too. I had previously attempted it twice in 2015 but did not pass then. I was so disheartened having failed it in the new format that I took a break of three years before returning to attempt F2 again.
How long did you spend preparing for the F2 paper?
I spent 8 weeks altogether. For the first six weeks, I studied for 6 hours during the week and 10 hours over the weekend. Then in the last two weeks before the exam, I increased my study to 10 hours during the week plus 10 hours over the weekend. In total, I estimate that I spent perhaps 136 hours studying F2. If I did less on one day, I would ensure that I made up the next day on the train or during my lunch hour at work. I also found studying at work more productive, after my working hours of course. Before the exam I took two days off where I only went through my weaker areas e.g. ratio analysis and WACC.
Did you take a course or did you opt for self-study?
Self-study. I had both Kaplan and BPP textbooks and exam practice kits. I also watched Open Tuition videos for tricky topics.
I would have chosen a course if my work paid for it. The courses are very expensive for a self-funding student. I plan to continue self-studying in the future too.
My recommendation to other students is to please join a course for discipline and for interacting with other students on the same journey, which also helps.
What (if anything), did you find especially difficult with F2 in relation to your preparation? e.g. balancing personal life with study, balancing work with study, the material was dull etc?
For me, it was being able to retain the knowledge. I was making notes but not retaining them. Making my own flashcards helped immensely.
What (if anything), did you find especially difficult with F2 in relation to the exam day? e.g. time management, nerves etc?
Time management is essential. Practicing mocks under exam conditions helps. You need to find out what works for you. Flagging and coming back to the difficult questions later on or going through all questions in chronological order. I flagged the questions I wasn’t too sure of and guessed an answer and then left those questions to review later in case I didn’t have the time to come back to it.
Was there an area of the F2 syllabus that you liked more than others?
Changes in group structure. I did the entire consolidation of statements a couple of times with all possible combinations. I used the old-style questions to get a complete understanding and I did achieve that.
Was there an area of the F2 syllabus that you liked less than others?
WACC and ratio analysis. I struggled with the interpretations more than the calculations. The textbook oversimplifies these areas and there are not enough examples to get a good grip on the analyses.
Do you have any tips for other students of the F2 CIMA exams?
Practice lots of questions and pay attention to the suggested answers for the wrong questions. Don’t try to guess the answer if you don’t know for sure. It’s easier to come back to the wrong question and correct your knowledge gap than just guessing an answer.
Have you used VIVA’s objective test materials (for any subject)? If so, how did you find the materials?
I am using VIVA now for F3. I have used VIVA for MCS before and I really like how the tutors use straightforward language to simplify complex concepts. It’s not too technical and is easy to understand. The explanations provided for the objective tests also follow the same language.
Do you have any final comments/recommendations/feelings/thoughts about your F2 experience?
Practice, Practice and Practice!
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